Raymond Specht

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Specht in 1948

Raymond Louis Specht (July 19, 1924 – February 13, 2021) was an Australian plant ecologist, conservationist and academic, who participated in the Arnhem Land Scientific Expedition of 1948.

Early life[change | change source]

Raymond Louis Specht was born in 1924 in Adelaide, South Australia[1] to Louis and Harriet Specht. He attended Richmond Primary School and Adelaide High School,[2] finishing high school as dux in 1941. Specht intended to pursue teaching as a career. In 1942 he was a student teacher in physics, chemistry and mathematics at Riverton High School. After attending a short course in teaching at the University of Adelaide, he enrolled in Adelaide Teachers College studying biology in 1943. He combined this with studies at the University of Adelaide, and ultimately took his BSc in botany and zoology in 1945 before taking first class honours in plant ecology in 1946.[3]

Arnhem Land Scientific Expedition[change | change source]

Specht was invited to join the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian Institution sponsored Arnhem Land Scientific Expedition in 1946.[4] After completing his Honours project he and the 15 other members of the group set out from Adelaide in March 1948. As the botanist for the group, Specht would spend 8 months with the team, collecting 25 tonnes of specimens.[5][6] After the expedition ended, Specht and his specimens flew to Brisbane in 1949 where the collected materials were identified and prepared for distribution around the world. Materials were sent to six herbaria within Australia, to Kew in England, the Rijksmuseum in Leiden, the Smithsonian Institution and Arnold Arboretum in the U.S.[4][7]

Specht returned to Adelaide and worked steadily on recording the materials recovered from the expedition over the next 14 years. The results of this would become Volume 3 of the Expedition, Botany and plant ecology (1958), co-edited with Charles P. Mountford. He also edited Volume 4 entitled Zoology (1964).[4]

Specht worked as a senior research fellow at the University of Adelaide from 1950 while he worked on his MSc. He was appointed a lecturer in botany in 1951, and worked on his PhD for the next two years, on mineral nutrition and biomass relationships of the heath vegetation at Dark Island, South Australia. He rose to Senior Lecturer in 1955. In 1956, Specht earnt Fulbright, Smith Mundt and Carnegie grants to study in the U.S.

Specht took up a position as Reader in plant ecology at the University of Melbourne in 1961, and became Acting Head of the Department of Botany in 1964. He moved to the University of Queensland in 1966 as Professor and Head of the Department of Botany and remained there until 1989. He was visiting professor in the Department of Forestry at the University of Oxford in 1970. He was visiting professor in the Department of Botany at the University of Leeds in 1975.

Personal life[change | change source]

Ray Specht married Marion Gilies in 1952.[8] They met on a University of Queensland Science Student Expedition to Fraser Island in 1949. They had one daughter, Alison.[9]

Specht died on February 13, 2021 in Brisbane, Queensland at the age of 96.[10]

Memberships and Awards[change | change source]

  • ANZAAS 1947-
  • Royal Society of South Australia 1947-
  • Royal Society of Victoria 1961-
  • Royal Society of Queensland 1967-
  • Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Wildlife Fund Australia 1978-1984
  • President of the Royal Society of South Australia in 1961.
  • Royal Society Nuffield Foundation Commonwealth Bursary in 1964.
  • Verco Medal of the Royal Society of South Australia in 1961.
  • Research Medal of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1976.
  • Senior Fulbright Scholar in 1983.
  • IBC Outstanding Intellectual of the Twentieth Century in 2000.

Published Works[change | change source]

  • Vegetation of South Australia (1972)
  • Conservation Survey of Australia (1974, 1995)
  • Heathlands of the World (1979, 1981)
  • Mediterranean Ecosystems of the World (1981, 1988)
  • Ecological Biogeography of Australia. Volume 1 (1981)
  • Co-authored with daughter, Alison Specht, Australian Plant Communities: Dynamics of structure, growth & biodiversity (1999, second edition 2002).

References[change | change source]

  1. Centre, The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research. "Specht, Raymond Louis - Biographical entry - Encyclopedia of Australian Science". www.eoas.info. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  2. "Results of Intermediate Examination Announced". Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954). 1940-02-02. p. 8. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  3. "Record Number Gain University Degrees". Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954). 1947-03-01. p. 8. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 McCarthy, Lynne (2011). "8. Ecology and the Arnhem Land Expedition: Raymond Specht, a botanist in the field" (PDF).
  5. "Raymond Louis Specht | National Museum of Australia". www.nma.gov.au. Archived from the original on 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  6. Peacock, Matt (2009-11-18), Historic Arnhem Land expedition celebrated, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 2018-03-08
  7. "WORLD DIGEST". Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954). 1953-08-01. p. 4. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  8. "Family Notices". Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954). 1952-01-02. p. 10. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  9. "Family Notices". Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954). 1953-01-01. p. 24. Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  10. "Funeral Notices". mytributes. 2021-02-18. Retrieved 2021-02-18.

Other websites[change | change source]